A video showing at least 10 Russian guards torturing and beating an inmate has gone viral compelling Russian authorities to mete out immediate punishment. Six of the guards have been detained.
The 10-minute video clip was released by The Novaya Gazeta which stated that the disturbing incident happened in June of 2017 in the city of Yaroslavl northeast of Moscow. The video has triggered an outcry from journalists and activists.
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Novaya Gazeta named the inmate, Yevgeny Makarov, and said it obtained the video from lawyer Irina Biryukova, who works for the Public Verdict rights group. The newspaper said Biryukova told them a year ago her client had been tortured.
The video shows prison guards and staff punching, kicking an inmate while other guards repeatedly hit him with an object all over his body including hard blows on his arms and legs.
The inmate being tortured could be heard in the clip screaming in pain.
Biryukova also told the newspaper that she first appealed to investigators about the injuries her client sustained from the said torture but she said no action was taken to address the matter.
Although rights activists say such abuse by prison guards is sadly already a common occurrence, it rarely provokes public fury but this one seems different.
The Russian government has denied that such prison abuse is systemic in the country and insisted that specific complaints of abuse are being probed by concerned authorities.
Russian investigators said they have started a criminal probe on the incident in question.
Investigators have established the identities of all those involved in the incident.They also said in a released statement that the guards involved were detained for “abusing their authority by using violence.” They are also working on detaining the rest of those who participated in the said torture.
Sergei Baburkin, a regional human rights ombudsman, said that a total of 17 prison guards have been suspended.
While the video appears authentic, the date and location it could not be independently verified.
Public Verdict also announced on Monday there was a risk of reprisals against Biryukova. As such, it was decided that she would be safer remaining abroad for the meantime while investigators examined an appeal for state protection for herself and her family.